Thursday, March 11, 2010

Teacher Quality Discussions – Part 1

On Monday night, the Alliance for Education and the 37th Legislative District engaged in an open dialogue about teacher quality. We were joined by Seattle Public Schools Board Directors Harium Martin-Morris, Betty Patu, and Steve Sundquist. This event was the launch of a series of community-wide conversations focused on strengthening teachers in every classroom.

The discussion began with all participants indentifying their top priority for improving teacher quality. We then discussed a variety of topics around the distribution of teacher talent, hiring, and evaluation.

Some of the key talking points and recommendations from our participants included:

More Resources for Teachers
· Great teachers are stressed. We [teachers] have a lot of issues to deal with. We need to explore how to address the underlying causes of the stress.
· Teachers are stretched too thin. Overwhelmed and need more assistance. More pay is a good start, but they need other incentives.
· Curriculum and Resources – we need more thoughtful curriculum, and also time to prep deeply into lessons.
· Consider performance pay for student growth and performance.
· Implement quality professional development which provides support for strong teaching

Attracting Innovative Talent

· Recruit teachers who are leaders, particularly for underperforming schools
· Ensure teachers value each child as a unique individual. All students should be on track to succeed.
· Support teachers who can apply different teaching styles. They must provide innovation in the classroom.
· Put increased focus on teacher preparation programs – methods taught at universities. Teaching prep needs support solid classroom management skills.
· Many teacher prep programs prepare teachers to work in suburban classrooms. Need support and learning for teaching in urban areas.
· Place the best principals in troubled schools.

Strengthening Accountability
· Strengthen accountability for teachers and principals effectiveness; need clear accountability for principal evaluations.
· Determine if it’s possible to know that student learning is occurring. It’s hard to measure, but we can’t continually teach to the test. Learning must be based on other factors.

This was an intimate and rich discussion that only scratched the surface of a much larger and significant debate. We invite you to share your thoughts on our blog and join us for upcoming meetings in your area. CLICK HERE to find dates and times for additional meetings. Join the conversation!

-Solynn McCurdy, Community Engagement Manager

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